OTAY MESA, CA - Along the Mexican border between San Diego and Tijuana is the biggest cluster of truck yards I've ever seen, all filled to capacity, all bustling day and night with international traffic, truck wheels kicking up gravel and dust that sticks to my skin and won't scrub off. American truck companies come to border towns to drop off goods going south, and the trailers are picked up by muddy cab-over trucks heading to Mexico. And the other way around.
Less than a mile away from the border, in this beautiful, bilingual, fair-weather place, I can almost believe that maybe that line separating the two countries really is imaginary. To the north, the hills of San Diego twinkle with lights in the night. To the south, Tijuana looks the same. One could confuse the two, if not for the gigantic omnipresent signs directing traffic to border crossings. The line just seems so arbitrary, like it was penciled in and everyone forgot they could erase it at any time.
About a hundred miles west of here, over the mountains and through the sand dunes, I-8 snakes next to the border. To the south of the highway, sand-blasted and chained barricades tell you just where the line lies. And again, you'd never know. It's all desert and wasteland as far as the eye can see, in either direction.